Sunday
March 26, 2017

Obra de Dios at Teatro Maipo

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tortonese’s divine comedy

By Máximo Pereyra Iraola
For the Herald
A few minutes into Obra de Dios (or “An Act of God,” in its original title), the title character warns the audience that if there are any critics in the room they may as well forget why they came, since no-one can really review God. Mankind has in fact been doing this one way or another since the beginning of times, even if anger toward God is often outmatched by fear, but it is true that at least in this particular case there’s hardly anything to question, since almost nothing is left unanswered.
Once everyone is seated and a few extra minutes go by in favour of those running late, the lights go off and the stage is engulfed in a heavenly glow that is suddenly invaded by God’s booming voice. In a cautionary tone, He begins to let us in on the reason why we have been gathered at the Maipo Theatre. However, a glitch of sorts in the audio system makes it impossible for Him to go on, and so it is decided that a vessel for His power and glory is needed, if the message is to be properly conveyed. Local actor and off-theatre legend Humberto Tortonese is rather randomly chosen for the job and gets teleported onto the stage, where he is possessed by the Lord.
Pronouns no longer need capitalisation, since Tortonese is one of us, a respected yet approachable member of our community. And even though we are told he is unaware of what is happening, God makes good use of the actor’s familiar character, background and wit in order to make the audience feel less intimidated. Accompanying this divinely possessed Tortonese in his task are archangels Gabriel and Miguel (played by Agustín Corsi and an outstanding Roberto Peloni), who aid God in the revealing and explaining of the new Ten Commandments.

Clearing the air
Such is God’s mission: to clear the air about some long misunderstood commandments, and to add a few new ones that are far more adequate to the times we live in. The Bible, he says, has been grossly misinterpreted, and many of its so-called laws, like the one forbidding men to lie with men, are nothing but failed translations. The same goes for tales like Noah’s, who according to God was never told to get that many animals into one single ship because that would’ve been insane.
“I just wiped all animals off the face of the earth and then rebuilt them after the storm passed,” he says. After his new teachings have been properly described, God leaves us with a surprising twist, and then gives a dumbstruck Humberto Tortonese his body back.
An Act of God, written by multiple Emmy award winner David Javerbaum, premiered in New York in May 2015, after being adapted from a series of tweets and a book. The lead role originally went to The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, and later to Broadway legend and Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes.
The play has been brilliantly adapted for this local version by Elio Marchi, who along with director Gustavo Zajak and renowned artist and costume designer Renata Shusscheim make the perfect team at the helm of this project.
There is certainly some room for improvement, and the play could benefit from the archangels sharing a bit more of the spotlight with the star since they are masterfully interpreted, but other than that, this is a clever show that is worth enjoying before it ends its run.                               w

When & Where
Wednesdays to Sundays 8.30 pm
Teatro Maipo, Esmeralda 443
Tickets for sale at the theatre and through Plateanet
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